January 2, 2010

Pop Theodicy Part 2: Self-Imposed Prisons

Posted in art, atheism, church, culture, politics, scripture, theodicy at 10:02 am by Jerry

Self-Limiting Freewill

“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’  But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.” – says Jesus in Matthew 5:38-41

According to this verse, we are NOT free to put limits on another’s behaviour. And from what I grew up hearing in the church, even God’s expressed will is now touted as merely invitation, seeking permission to intervene. I suppose that’s why it’s also often said by Christians, “I agree with C.S.Lewis when he said in his book, The Problem of Pain, ‘Hell is locked from the inside'”.

Interesting. And yet, I’ve never heard any Christian state they believe it’s quite possible that some of those who will be (or are) in the never-ending hell will manage to make their way out. Of all the various spiritual journeys hell-bound people are on, will none of them find “salvation”? Or is it, in the grand scale of things, these people are destined to stay in hell? Sounds deterministic to me.

Also, if C.S.Lewis says it, is it necessarily biblical? In one of his stories about heaven and hell, Jesus says,

“And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:26).

It looks like God has only made freewill available to us during the years we spend on earth, and the afterlife exists without the highly praised freewill we’ve been talkin’ about.

Christianity For the Abolishment of State Prisons

So what does this earthly-bound freewill look like? Our societies of voting citizens, judges, politicians, lawyers and officers deem it NECESSARY and JUST to limit a citizen’s freewill for the purpose of protecting our societies from greater dangers than restricting the limits of our freewill. For example, though consistent with their theology, is it reasonable for the christian church to expect our society to hand over the keys to dangerous criminals in state prisons, freeing them to be the only ones to lock themselves in jail, if they so choose to?

Obviously, not. It’s absurd. And so is the freewill argument.



  1. Marc said,

    I think “The Evangelical Universalist” addresses the question of the door locked from the inside. It allows for reconciation beyond the grave.

  2. Jerry said,

    Hey Marc,

    First time I’ve heard of them. Thanks for letting me know. I wonder how many there are. Becky and I listened to a podcast with an “Evangelical Universalist” as a guest. Didn’t hear much to address some of my questions – like ‘what does reconciliation beyond the grave look like?’ ‘Is there any clear biblical texts to back this up?’ ‘Do they basically say all will acknowledge God’s sovereignty, or do they in fact communicate that all will love and obey God as well?’ ‘Is there just as much freewill available for those in heaven as there is for those in hell?’ ‘If some of the damned still choose to remain in hell, is it quite plausible that some in heaven might change their mind and leave for hell?’ ‘What happens to the definition of “heaven” if it’s residents are fully aware of hell and free to consider moving there?’

    Becky said you commented on a “Evangelical Universalist” book in your blog. I’ll have to look for it. Send me a link to it if you’d like.

    Thanks for dropping by,

  3. Jerry said,

    By the way, Marc, are you an “Evangelical Universalist”? Do you find the argument for it convincing? Especially, convincing for evangelicals?

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